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Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Barry Bonds: home run king or steroid joke?

I've been watching Bonds chase history out of the corner of my eye, hoping that in the presence of steroid controversy he would never achieve the home run record and my hopes were very short-lived. On Tuesday, August 7th, against the Washington Nationals, Barry sent a ball into the right center stands to become the owner of the home run record with 756.

When Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, known as The Bash Brothers, ruled the bay area scene back in the late '80s I was truly interested in baseball for the first time. After Canseco hit a slump and started to make headlines outside of baseball (by driving his car 202 mph allegedly using jet fuel), I turned to McGwire to be my baseball icon of choice. Several years later, he brought the first widespread home run chase to attention, battling Sammy Sosa for the single season home run record, which is also owned by Barry Bonds.

In a cowardly move, Canseco published a book, Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big, Canseco documented injecting McGwire and Sosa, among others, with steroids. Some will say that the book only points out the obvious, that during the McGwire-Sosa battle, they were looking awfully enlarged and bloated pointing to steroid use. Personally, until I see bulletproof test results dating back to the height of their success, I will not let a washed up has-been like Canseco ruin my image of McGwire as one of the very best. Many of the most loved and respected players in baseball came to McGwire's side and maintain to this day that he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

One thing that I know is that steroids does nothing but add muscle mass to your body, so to say that steroids make you a better hitter isn't necessarily the case. They can make you a 'harder' hitter, so when you connect the ball will travel further than it may have before. So basically to say that these players got help from steroids is to say that it made them hitters when they weren't before. I say that any players who used steroids would have achieved their accolades inevitably, if only much later in their careers.

Two-time NL Dale Murphy claims that Barry Bonds used performance-enhancing drugs "without a doubt". He goes on to say that "He [Barry] hit 73 home runs when he was 37. I mean, Hank would have hit 855 if he had the same advantage.” I'm guessing these two aren't the best of friends. Maybe Mr. Murphy didn't get a Christmas card last year, and somebody's a little bitter. Nothing says class like a man who is out of the game and has to step in at the high point of another player's career and shit all over it.

There is plenty of "evidence" all over the Internet that will point you to a closed-case for Bonds, sending him to purgatory to sit along with Pete Rose. However, none of it comes from a court or the MLB itself. A book, Game of Shadows, appears to have solid evidence against Bonds but is not an official document stemming from an investigation. It contains the words of people who have made observations and turned them into "evidence" that Bonds has used steroids. The authors of that book have been subpoenaed and made to turn over copies of federal jury transcripts used in the book, due to the illegal actions of leaking the documents.

Bonds testified in December 2003 to a grand jury that he was given substances known as "the clear" and "the cream" by a trainer who was indicted in a steroid-distribution ring, not knowing he was using steroids. He has been tested several times, with negative results.
Either Bonds has Bud Selig, baseball commissioner, in his pocket along with several others or he simply is an incredible hitting force.

After hitting number 756 last night, Bonds says that his record is "not tainted at all, period".
So until there is any concrete evidence otherwise, we have a new home run king. Just as I have stood by McGwire over the years, I can't get in the way of the fans out there whose hero just became the main slugger for years to come. Regardless of what anyone says, especially those who are out to get Mr. Bonds, this is very good for baseball and for the city of San Francisco. CONGRATULATIONS BARRY BONDS!!!

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